Look, I printed off the internet.
Here’s something you wouldn’t expect someone like me, a serial pisser-about-on-the-internet, to get excited about. It’s PaperLater, a new thing from The Newspaper Club which lets you make your own little newspaper of stuff you’ve found online.
You select the articles, either by clicking a desktop shortcut or by emailing the link from your mobile or tablet. They print it out and deliver it to your door, with a paper of 24 pages costing you £4.99.
On the face of it, paying someone a fiver to print out the internet seems like a borderline insane thing to do. And there’s no doubt, this is basically what is happening here.
The PaperLater folks suggest you might do this as a way of catching up on things you haven’t got round to reading, such as longform articles. And the number of fascinating-looking but sadly unread pieces from the New Yorker and suchlike in my Pocket folder certainly suggests that there can be too many distractions to consume quality writing in a satisfying way on a smartphone. I’ve found the Kindle app for iPad to be a much better bet.
I actually ordered a PaperLater full of longreads as a present for a friend I visited last week. I enjoyed the process of picking and choosing the articles to fill up by 24-page allowance, and the paper itself when it arrived was a decent quality object. I don’t know if I’d make one purely for myself – I’m probably more likely to continue with not only the Kindle but also the Longform apps on my iPad – but I reckon it’s not a bad gift idea.
If you want to have a go yourself, you’ll need to go to the PaperLater website and request an invitation, because it’s still in beta.
The Piper Alpha memorial in Aberdeen. (picture: Lizzie/Wikipedia)
If you grew up in Aberdeen you remember Piper Alpha. I was six at the time, in July 1988, and I vividly recall hearing the rescue helicopters flying directly over my house from the airport out to sea. They returned with just 61 survivors; 167 men were killed.
In the 25 years since, the tragedy has perhaps not been revisited by the media as often as others from that time, such as Hillsborough and Lockerbie. But there was an excellent documentary, Fire In the Night, shown on BBC2 earlier this year. And as a result I’ve read the source material for the film, a book by Scotsman journalist Stephen McGinty. It’s thorough but highly readable, with the descriptions of the chaos on board the platform as the fire took hold particularly devastating. Recommended.
Also recommended is Nieman Lab’s oral history of the impact of digital technologies on journalism, Riptide. It’s been criticised for being too simplistic and lacking a suitable variety of voices, but it’s still a useful guide to some of the key developments and experiments in the news business over the past three decades. And this video of a 1981 news report on an early digital experiment in San Francisco is ace.
Elsewhere, Damian Radcliffe published another useful assessment of the UK’s hyperlocal scene at the BBC College of Journalism, an abridged version of his chapter in the new edition of What Do We Mean By Local?. This guide from the BBC’s Marc Settle to using Apple’s new iOS7 is also worth a read.
A couple of sport-related articles which I’ve enjoyed lately: Andy Bull in the Guardian on cricketer Scott Boswell’s battle with the yips, and some interesting speculation from the New Yorker on whether playing American football might have contributed to Jack Kerouac’s early death.
The always-good This American Life radio show had another cracker earlier this month, too. Michael Lewis (of Moneyball fame) tells the remarkable story of how Bosnian immigrant Emir Kamenica got into school and then college in the US. Listen to the whole thing: the podcast is here.
Posted in What I'm Reading
Tagged Andy Bull, Apple, BBC College of Journalism, Damian Radcliffe, Emir Kamenica, Fire In The Night, Hyperlocal, iOS7, Jack Kerouac, Marc Settle, Michael Lewis, Nieman Lab, Piper Alpha, Riptide, Scott Boswell, Stephen McGinty, The Guardian, The New Yorker, The Scotsman, This American Life, What Do We Mean By Local?
The Washington Post building. (picture: vpickering on Flickr)
This is the first in what I imagine will be a semi-regular feature on this site, with links to things I’ve enjoyed reading.
The biggest media news of the week came from Washington DC, where the Graham family announced it was selling the Washington Post to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos for $250m.
That sounds like a lot of money, but everything’s relative. As Alex Massie points out, that’s basically what Johnston Press paid for The Scotsman as recently as 2005.
Of the American reactions to the deal, here’s the analysis on the Post’s own Wonkblog. It’s worth reading the thoughts of former Post staffer and New Yorker editor David Remnick.
Also at the New Yorker, John Cassidy offers a sceptical view of what Bezos’ motives might be. Back at the Post’s website, read this enjoyable open letter to Bezos from Gene Weingarten.
I’ve been checking out Medium this week, the writing-focused newish social network from the Twitter guys, Ev Williams and Biz Stone. Williams explains it all here.
A couple of things that I particularly enjoyed: Callie Schweitzer on how interviewing director David O Russell for her high school newspaper changed her life, and Dave Harte discussing a presentation on the internet he gave to a class of ten-year-olds.
Some rotten boroughs news to finish. Weep at Leeds Citizen’s account of councillors’ refusal to allow the recording of a council meeting. And, from Private Eye via the Telegraph’s Louise Gray, an explanation of how fracking permission was originally granted in Balcombe (there’s an easier-to-read follow up from the Independent here).
Just goes to show why it’s important to scrutinise even parish councils.
Posted in What I'm Reading
Tagged Alex Massie, Amazon, Balcombe, Biz Stone, Callie Schweitzer, Dave Harte, David O Russell, David Remnick, Ev Williams, Fracking, Gene Weingarten, Jeff Bezos, John Cassidy, Johnston Press, Leeds Citizen, Louise Gray, Medium, Parish councils, Private Eye, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The New Yorker, The Scotsman, Washington Post, Wonkblog